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Are Those With Gender Egalitarian Views Also Anti-Racists?

New study suggests that this may not necessarily be the case.

Key points

  • Those who espouse gender-egalitarian views do not necessarily espouse anti-racist views.
  • There is greater alignment in gender egalitarianism and anti-racist views among those born in more recent cohorts and college graduates.

Katie Couric discussed her interview with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her new book. When asked what she thought about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police killings of Black men, Ginsburg indicated that she viewed the action as a "contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and their grandparents to have a decent life" (Couric, 2021).

For many fans of the late Supreme Court justice, such a comment came as a surprise. For example, Katie Couric stated that she stiffened and thought that such a comment was "unworthy of a crusader for equity."

Those who are surprised are implicitly assuming that those with gender-egalitarian views also espouse anti-racist views. Is this the case?

What does the social science literature say about the interconnectedness between gender and racial attitudes?

A new study by Scarborough and colleagues (2021) offers some insights into the topic. Using data from the 1977-2018 General Social Survey, they found that most U.S. adults could be classified into one of four attitudinal categories: (a) gender-egalitarian and anti-racist, (b) anti-racist but not gender-egalitarian, (c) gender-egalitarian but not anti-racist, and (d) not gender-egalitarian and not anti-racist. Roughly equal shares -a third- of U.S. adults were either "gender-egalitarian and anti-racist" or "gender-egalitarian but not anti-racists."

Their study also revealed the share of individuals with existing gender-egalitarian views had developed those views between the late 1970s and early 2010s. Still, this group was primarily comprised of those who did not subscribe to anti-racist views. Only after 2012 did the share of individuals who adhered to both feminist and anti-racist views increase steadily and surpass those who adhered to feminist values but did not subscribe to anti-racist views.

Group differences also exist. White men were least, and Black women were most likely to espouse gender-egalitarian and anti-racist views simultaneously. Just over 50 percent of Black women adhered to both, in contrast with 24 percent white men, 32 percent white women, and 41 percent black men.

The attitudinal category most common among white women was the "gender-egalitarian but not anti-racist" category (37 percent).

Finally, there is greater alignment in gender egalitarianism and anti-racist views among those born in more recent cohorts and those with higher levels of education, particularly college graduates.

Overall, this study suggested that those who espouse egalitarian views in one dimension (e.g., gender) do not necessarily espouse egalitarian views in another dimension (e.g., race). As such, perhaps, the late Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, should be celebrated by her fans and judged by her critics as a "crusader for gender equality," not necessarily as a "crusader for all dimensions of equality."

References

Couric, K. (2021, October 26). Going There. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

Scarborough, W.J., J. Pepin, D. Lambouths, R. Kwon, and R. Monasterio. (2021). The Intersection of Racial and Gender Attitudes, 1977 through 2018. American Sociological Review, Vol.86 (5), p.823-855. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00031224211033582.

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